Archives

Elvis’s Mom

adolescent adult black and white casual

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When we first moved into our neighborhood, many years ago, we would often see a lady either walking through our yard or along the street yelling “Elvis.”  Elvis was a black lab retriever mix with spots of gray.  Lila, our dog, is beginning to turn a little gray around her mouth and has longer legs than Elvis, but she is starting to make me feel like our neighbor, Elvis’s mom, who moved away a long time ago.  

The other day, when we brought Lila home from the kennel, and when we were about to grab ahold of her by her collar, she took off running in a southerly direction.  I grabbed her leash, headed in that direction, calling her name every so often, but I didn’t get a response.  I headed home to find that a different neighbor, who recognized Lila, and who lives in a northerly direction, brought her back to our house.

Today, a little storm was brewing, so I delayed our walk.  I brushed Lila before letting her back in the house.  Just as I was going to open the door, she took off running in a southerly direction again.  I yelled to her, as sweetly as I could, in my sudden bad mood, but it didn’t coax her back, as usual.  This time, since I was home by myself, I went on with my chores and hoped someone would come knocking or calling.

About 15 minutes later, our phone rang.

“Are you missing a dog?” the lady asked.

“Yes, she got away from me,” I said. 

“We have her here.  She’s so friendly.  We gave her some water.”

“Thank you.  Where are you?”

The lady gave me her address, which is not very far from the southerly direction Lila headed.

“I’ll be right over.”  I grabbed Lila’s leash and drove to the neighbor’s house, because the raindrops were getting quite large.  I wondered why Lila kept running away lately.  It is a common trend for her, which lessened the last couple of years.  Maybe she misses her three mile walks.  Since it’s been warm with high humidity, we whittled our walks down to a mile.  If only Lila could understand the risks of heat stroke. When it’s cooler out, Lila likes to sit under the ash tree in our front yard and is the neighborhood greeter.  She might be missing the delivery people and mailman who all give her treats.  Maybe she misses our friends who used to come over.  Not many other visitors have been stopping by, because of the pandemic. 

When I got closer to the address, I spotted Lila in the neighbor’s front yard on a leash.  The nice lady was there waiting with Lila.  A little poodle watched from behind the glass storm door, jumping and wagging its tail. Congratulations 2020 High School Graduate signs spotted the yard.

“Thank you.  Thank you,” I said.  Lila jumped up high and acted like she hadn’t seen me in months!  The lady unhooked her from their leash, and I got Lila hooked on mine.  

Lila has been getting us to socialize with our many nice neighbors.  I can’t help but feel like Elvis’s mom whenever I run around the neighborhood in search of our girl. Maybe we were meant to keep up with that silly neighborhood tradition that Elvis created.

No matter what was meant to be, have you ever met a dog named Elvis? 🙂

Art is What You Make it!

20200612_141617173110393250734194.jpg

Buttons were calling me. Button artwork showed up on Pinterest, and I saved it. Fancy buttons, from grandmas gone by, revealed themselves to me. While searching for measuring tape in an old sewing basket, a decorative button appeared, from a Great Great Grandma. When looking for a sewing tool in another spot, impressive buttons from yet another Grandma showed up. My own buttons, the ones that come with a newly-purchased piece of clothing, piled up in a drawer, reminded me of their whereabouts.

Wouldn’t it be cool if I could combine a bunch of buttons from the grandmas and give it to my granddaughter for a birthday present? Here’s how I made that happen.

Directions:

  • Draw a paper heart, like we made in elementary school, where you fold the paper in half and cut it with scissors.  My paper heart was approximately 7 inches x 7 inches.
  • Open and center the paper heart onto a piece of Aida cloth, and trace the shape with a sewing marker.
  • Contact any other grandmothers to ask for buttons to add to the piece.
  • Collect buttons and store in one place.
  • Get more buttons at a craft store.
  • Arrange buttons on cloth to get an idea of how the piece might look (optional).
  • Sew buttons on one-by-one.
  • Start at the bottom and work along the right edge. Fill in middle as you go. Continue to go around the edge of the rest of the heart.
  • Sew buttons to fill in so cloth does not show through, as best as possible, if you like.
  • When complete, hand wash with laundry detergent and warm water making sure to rub off any marks.
  • Remove excess water by placing piece between bath towels.
  • Let air dry overnight by setting on a dry towel.
  • Iron wrinkles out the next day, using the cotton setting.
  • Frame in regular or shadow box frame.  The shadow box I purchased was 8 inches x 8 inches.

On the designs I saw on Pinterest, the buttons lay flat.  My design has buttons popping out all over the place, but I like how it looks.  Art is what you make it!

Those old buttons took on a shine I didn’t know they had, after I washed them clean. To finish, I wrote a note to my granddaughter, and placed it on the back of the frame. The note described how the heart is “filled with grandma love” and explained where the buttons came from.  I let her know “I mixed a little bit of the old with a little bit of the new.”

I hope my granddaughter will cherish and feel the love that went into this piece.  🙂

As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life. ~John Lubbock

Showered with Lots of Love

composition of decorative coil hearts and open envelope

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The breeze was a little strong at times, even though the day was sunny and bright.  The hand-crafted white tissue paper flowers that decorated the signs and table in the front yard got tossed about.  We jumped in shock when a few of the polka-dotted balloons popped, which happened when they hit a sharp corner of a sign.  We had to keep an eye on things to keep stuff from blowing away.  

When I first accepted the fact that my daughter’s bridal shower wasn’t going to happen the way we originally planned, I felt disappointed.  I like tradition.  The old plan was to get together inside to share a meal, talk and laugh a lot with family and friends, play a silly game, and watch the future bride open her gifts.  The new plan was the guests would drive by, wave, drop off their gift, watch the future bride and groom open it, get a treat bag and be on their way.  That’s what I envisioned because that’s how the invitation read.  But when the day arrived, things turned out differently.  

Our hostesses parked their cars in the church parking lot across the street, so the street would stay clear for the big parade!  Funny though, because the first guests to arrive were three of the bridesmaids.  They drove by our house a few times, and we were wondering what they were doing.  We waved each time.  Where were they going?  This is not how a parade works!  They ended up parking in the lot too.  It was a welcome sight to see them walk over to stay and chat the entire time.

My friend Dianne parked in the lot too.  The hostesses started to worry if we should have more food, if people were going to stay and chat.  When I asked Dianne, she said, “No, it’s a drive-by shower.  People aren’t expecting anything.”  So I took her advice.  To be hospitable, I grabbed the big tray of cupcakes we had on hand, and offered those.  Plus, each invitee received a little treat bag filled with different chocolate sweets and a juice pouch. 

The guests who didn’t park across the way, got out and stayed close to their cars or stayed in their cars and kept a safe distance.  It was getting towards the end of our one-hour parade, and I wondered about a few cousins who hadn’t shown up yet.  The pièce de résistance was when a Jeep rode by all decorated in white streamers.  Six beautiful cousins were waving with arms all over the place and smiling their biggest smiles.  A song of “Here Comes the Bride” wafted towards us.  One cousin held a sign that said “Always and Forever.”  🙂

After the parade, the grandmothers, mothers, a dad, aunts, an uncle, sisters, a cousin, and the future Mr. and Mrs. sat outside at the picnic table to have a lunch of wraps, fruit, chips, banana bread, and cupcakes.  A delivery man driving a FedEx truck waved and smiled at us, happy to see people celebrating.  Later, a smaller group went inside to watch the future bride and groom open their presents.  Katie and Mike were showered with lots of love that day.  

The drive-by turned out better than I ever expected.  I missed having everyone together in the same place at the same time, but we were fortunate to see many smiling faces that we haven’t seen for so long!

Do you think the drive-by party might become a new tradition?

How to Almost Make a Buck

20200530_1110278715593301173541042.jpg

Here’s a picture of all the different types of metals that can be recycled.  If you have a bunch of old metal curtain rods, an old sump pump, a rusty pair of scissors, extension cords, an old steel Christmas tree stand, used-up batteries, and about 50 other pounds of metals, you can take it over to the metal recycling place in your neighborhood. I decided to go to such a place with my husband last weekend.  After we got there, we got a big cart, where we placed the items, and got in line.  There were about six people ahead of us, with matching carts.  Some were wearing masks, but it didn’t seem necessary since we were mostly outside and the warehouse was completely open with fresh air flowing through.  Plus, the carts were at least six feet long.

If we had a pound or two of more metal, we might have made an entire dollar!  We ended up with 99 cents. 🙂

Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.  ~Benjamin Franklin

The Big Commotion

20200528_133030185938433504803820.jpg

Lila, our dog, has the habit of sticking around the kitchen during cleanup, in case scraps of any sort of morsel end up on the floor.  Lila doesn’t like to see anything get wasted and polishes it up immediately.  One Sunday, a few months ago, my daughter and son-in-law offered to tidy up after dinner.  Papa and I went into the family room with our grandson to connect wooden toy train tracks.  From the kitchen, we could hear conversing but couldn’t make out the words.

As the three of us were concentrating on getting train cars in line, a large bang came from the direction of the kitchen.  The three of us looked at each other trying to imagine what the noise could have been.  It was a noise we’ve never heard.  It was much more than the sound of a drinking glass shattering on the floor. Loud laughter and a small squeal came from the same direction.  I got up to see what was the matter.  When I got to the scene of the commotion, I discovered that Lila’s dog tag clasp had gotten attached to one of the brackets in the dishwasher.  She must have gotten spooked when she noticed she couldn’t move very easily and tried to run away.  When she attempted to run, the entire bottom rack of the dishwasher went along with her.  I went over to Lila, who was in the dining room by that time and unhooked her collar to free her.  Lila’s tail was down and stuck between her legs letting us know her very sad mood.  Amazingly, even though the entire rack was full, not one dish broke, and all living beings were left unharmed.  Ever since that day, Lila has never put her nose or collar inside the dishwasher again.

That’s not to say she hasn’t been tempted to lick some plates.  Sometimes she will walk by the dishwasher, when I’m loading it, with her eyes suspiciously looking in the direction of the dishes.  She decides against licking any plates.  Obviously, Lila doesn’t want to experience the big commotion again.

No matter how often I chided her before that day, she would never stop licking those plates.  Now, when I’m loading the dishwasher, I give her a little nod to remind her about what happened the time her collar got stuck to the bracket.

It wasn’t the best way to train our dog, but it seemed to have worked.  Do you have any stories of how you accidentally trained your dog to do or not do something? 

A dog can express more with his tail in seconds than his owner can
express with his tongue in hours.
~Author Unknown

Quarantine Hair

person holding silver and black pen

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

How weird to hear the land line ring.  Land line telephone calls have gone down at our house since the pandemic arrived.  Solicitors have not been bugging us like they normally do.  The ring woke me up from a snooze, then the recording from the answering machine kicked in.  The years since I’ve changed that recording has got to be in the double digits.  After my recorded spiel was done, an actual person’s voice was talking on the line and being recorded.  It was Trish!  Trish is the lady who cuts my hair.  I haven’t seen Trish since February.  Since we have been getting together every six to eight weeks for the last 10 years, I found myself missing our fun chats and chuckles.  

“Hello, hello, it’s me,” I said in a very excited voice, after I hurriedly picked up the receiver.  It was so nice to hear Trish’s voice!  A couple of hours before, our governor announced that he was going to lift the stay-at-home order.  When I heard salons could open back up, I checked my latest text to Trish because I was wondering if it would be okay to give her a call, but her text said she would call her clients after she got the okay to open.  Trish let me know I was the fifth person on her list because I pre-booked an appointment.  Luckily, I got an appointment on the first day that she’s allowed to start cutting hair again.  We are to wear masks and are not supposed to stay in the waiting room.  We are to sit in our cars until we get a call or text letting us know it’s okay to go in. 

I feel very lucky to have found Trish.  Curly hair can be unruly, but Trish knows how to shape it perfectly.  That’s why I’ve been following her around for so long.  I can think back to a lot of very weird haircuts I’ve had in the past.  One time, my head looked like it was in the shape of an evergreen tree.  

Trish and I met at a salon, where I continued to get my haircut by her for a couple of years.  One day the salon called to let me know Trish quit and asked if I would like to re-scheduled with someone else.  I immediately asked if they knew Trish’s contact information, but they wouldn’t give me any details.  I let them know that I did not want to re-schedule with someone else, and I quietly hung up the phone.  I felt frantic and wondered if I would have to go back to my evergreen tree look.  I didn’t have her cell phone number then.  I eventually found her on Facebook and sent her a message.  She told me she wanted to let me know at my last appointment that she was leaving, but there were no times where we were not within earshot of someone.  I followed her over to the new salon.  Now she has her own business, and she always lets her clients know what’s going on.

Since it’s been so long since I got a haircut, I was starting to worry I’d have to cut my own.  I have a set of scissors that are stored away with the clippers.  The years since I’ve bought the clippers is well into double digits.  The instructions indicate that the clippers should be oiled, so I should probably do that!  Our children got some homemade haircuts when they were in elementary school.  The girls didn’t seem to mind their haircuts with the scissors.  Our oldest daughter’s hair wasn’t too hard to cut because it’s curly and she kept it long.  If it wasn’t even, a person couldn’t tell.  It curled brilliantly to hide any flaws.  Our second daughter has straight hair, with a little bit of a wave.  It took me days to cut her hair.  Whenever she moved a different way, it looked like her hair was uneven.  I’d say, “Wait a minute,” and I grabbed those scissors and tried to even it out.  Luckily, I didn’t get too carried away – she never ended up with a pixie cut.  Our youngest son did not care for the clippers at all.  He often had the fear that I was going to cut his ear off.  He might have gotten two or three haircuts from me back in those days.  None of us could handle this fear, which ended up with me taking him to the barber.  Recently, my husband asked for a haircut.  The clippers are still working, though it is working rather loudly, probably because it needs to be oiled.  No barber shops are open, so how could I refuse?

These personal experiences with hair helped me to realize how important hair stylists and barbers really are.  Especially now, with my quarantine hair.  I’m looking forward to getting a little piece of my normal life back by going to see Trish.  This quarantine hair is thankful too.  Also, I know we will have a fun chat and some chuckles.

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges,
but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.
  ~Author Unknown

My Homer Hanky is “Safe”

five assorted threads

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

On April 18, our Governor launched a statewide homemade mask drive. The masks were to be dropped off at the neighborhood fire station the following Saturday. There was one week to get the job done. I was able to make 22 masks with the materials I had. When the day arrived to deliver them, I drove to the fire station to see a large bin by the entrance. After lifting the lid, I was surprised to see that the bin was a little over half full. A couple of weeks later, I read an article that said the volunteers from our city made 1,200 fabric masks. The firefighters sanitized and delivered the masks to senior living facilities and other group homes for employees and residents to wear.

I started making masks several weeks ago for family and friends, so I didn’t mind making a few more. After I explored a lot of patterns online, I decided to go with the mask that is shown in the video from the Deaconess. Luckily I saved a lot of sewing scraps over the years. I’m happy I didn’t know that at the time I stitched together pinafores to go over my little girls’ Easter dresses, that down the road the soft baby blue fabric would come in useful one day as masks. The other fabric is from curtains I made for our basement windows. That tannish brown material is a reminder of my challenged math skills and how I ordered twice the amount I needed. Coincidentally, there was enough 1/4-inch elastic and plenty of thread in my stash to make those 22 masks plus the 18 I previously made for loved ones.

Last week, I decided to venture out to the fabric store to re-stock my supply. I also wanted to work with some more decorative fabric. The store has shortened its hours and is only letting a certain amount of people in at a time. There wasn’t a lot of cute fabric to choose from, but I bought a couple of yards of blue and white checkered material and a blue and white calico blend. I saw some sports graphic fabric, which reminded me of the woman I saw at the grocery store a few days before. She was wearing an old, white Minnesota Twins Homer Hanky, a hankerchief-like rally towel, as a mask. She must have dug it way out of her closet, since the Twins were in the World Series in 1987 and 1991. It looked like extra stitching was on the front and that she cut it to fit. Perhaps she got the idea from the news, where I read that the 2019 Homer Hankies are being re-purposed. Faribault Woolen Mill Co. and Love Your Melon are turning something old into something new, too.

The Governor’s face mask drive is still going on – there is still an urgent need for masks. Now that I’ve re-stocked my supplies, I’m happy to say my Homer Hanky is safe and hiding in a closet somewhere.

Under the Steeple

low angle view of clock against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Hi Evie,” I said enthusiastically.  “It’s Mary Ann, from choir.”  Even though I’ve only been a part of choir for a short time, I find it surprising that I miss it so much.  Plus, having been sheltering at home, I was extra excited to see someone I know in the flesh instead of over a computer screen.  

Evie was one of the first people to talk to me when I joined and has been a member for a long time.  We are in the alto section together, and Evie helps me get the notes right.  I can hear her very well, since she sits behind me.  We chatted for a short time, while we were both walking our dogs.  We were sure to keep a good distance from each other so as not to spread any unknown germs.  Evie said she misses everybody and can’t wait until we can all be together again.  I feel the same and look forward to singing with our group again.

Our choir stopped getting together the beginning of March because of COVID-19.  At that time, we were getting ready for the most important weekend of the year, Easter.  The first time I attended practice was last September.  I knew it was time for me to join because the choir sang songs that were not in the missal or worship aid.  I wanted to sing those songs too!  During my first practice, I seriously got chills while we were practicing one of the songs.  The little hairs on the back of my neck stood out.  I couldn’t believe I was among so many talented people.  Surely, I thought, This must be what angels sound like.  Not only did everyone sing beautifully, there is a comedic connection among the members that bonds the group together. It’s not only the music that I miss, it’s the good humor that comes along with the ins and outs of practicing to become better.

Another thing I miss is the cream-colored robe.  The first few times I wore it, I felt uncomfortable.  The robe is linen and covers from neck to toes.  It sometimes sticks to my clothes and bunches up when I’m walking.  I usually wear a t-shirt and cotton pants underneath because everything can get really warm.  I started to appreciate the robe when people I’ve never met came up to me after the service to tell me how great the choir sounded that day.  Now when I tune in to watch the live stream, I see how empty the entire space looks.  The choir loft seems especially bare.  Chris, our organist, is there every Sunday with one of the cantors, and I try to sing along.  After one of the first Sundays of the shelter-at-home, Chris emailed to let us know how much he misses seeing us in the loft.  Chris closed his email by signing it “Your Organ Grinder.”  🙂

When people get back to under the steeple, I will happily wear my cream-colored robe no matter how warm I get.  As long as we sing, we pray twice, and we all can use double the prayers right now. 

To sing is to pray twice. ~St. Augustine 

Sin City

My husband and I recently visited Las Vegas before the shut down.  It’s hard to imagine “Sin City” as a quiet and reserved place now, with no hustle and bustle.  We enjoyed walking around the strip and checking out the different hotels.

One day, we wandered around the Bellagio Hotel & Casino.  Thankfully, we discovered the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, which is located near the lobby. This year the Bellagio is celebrating the Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat. There were 32,000 flowers contained in the display this year.  It was quite a spectacular sight to see.

The Bellagio changes the display every season. If you go, after things get back to normal, check their website, because it may not be open during their construction of new displays.

20200304_1327178746499191156704552.jpg

Here’s a photo of the High Roller, which is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. You may have noticed the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop in the photo too, which is located on Linq Lane.  Linq Lane is the street where the zip liners zip and is close to the Flamingo Hotel.  We didn’t go on the High Roller or the zip line, but we couldn’t pass up the chocolate.

There’s so much to see in Sin City.

Crowds of Humanity

500_f_190562171_nfh7a5xwj9bvuew2tmst0xshaphvopzc
Photo courtesy of Pexels.com.

Now that we are where we are with all the goings on in the world today, of course I think about something I enjoyed, which can help a person feel happy! My husband and I were lucky to be able to go to Las Vegas the beginning of March to enjoy the crowds of humanity.

The first person we met was our Uber driver, who instantly made us feel welcome. Her appreciation for the suddenly-changing clouds, which she called “God’s artwork,” helped me to know she definitely would be a good person to ask for a dinner recommendation! Earlier that day, my husband and I decided we would like to have seafood. Our Uber driver’s recommendation of Hot N Juicy Crawfish did not disappoint.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish is a Cajun creole restaurant and was totally different from anywhere we have ever been. It was crowded, so we hung out at the bar for about 20 minutes, where I slowly sipped a delicious Lemon Drop. After we were seated, we decided to order the “Get Your Feet Wet” combo, which includes one pound of boiled shrimp, a dozen Andouille sausages, one pound of boiled crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes, and sauce. We ordered their hot and juicy sauce, which is their specialty. The meal arrived in a big plastic bag all hot and juicy, of course. There is a reason the tables are covered with plastic and it’s a good idea to wear the bib they provide. Our waiter also brought us an extra empty bag to place our discarded shells.

When our food arrived, it was like we hadn’t eaten for days! It felt like we were little kids who just discovered a new playground.  What fun it was to reach in the big plastic bag, with our plastic-gloved hands. Yes, you get to wear gloves too. Not a piece of silverware was in sight, but there were plenty of napkins! There were very many pieces of medium-sized shrimp, mildly-spicy sausage, and then there were the crawfish, which were very small. I only found a tiny piece of meat after I pulled out the tail. I thought the little crawfish should have stayed where they came from and should have been allowed to live! Maybe there’s something I’m missing about those little creatures. Let me know, if you know!

We were stuffed by the time we cleaned out our bag! No room for dessert, but now I wonder what dessert would have been, so I looked it up.   They have fried brownies – another thing I haven’t tried. Something to look forward to, when we get back to enjoying the crowds of humanity.